Ironman 70.3 Indian Wells La Quinta Point To Point

Ironman 70.3 Indian Wells La Quinta came and went this last weekend. It’s quickly turning into the strongest end of the season race. The 70.3 saw over 2300 athletes competing. The area is home to some of the best PGA golf courses and major tennis matches. And the city of Indian Wells and La Quinta rolls out the red carpet for Ironman and athletes alike – as best they can. I say this because it’s still a complete cluster to get around. The one way in and out of Lake Cahuilla, while creating a breath-taking view for the start, has its challenges of early morning athlete shuttles and “baptizing your wetsuit” the day before. If you are wanting to see your athlete swim, chances are you aren’t going to see them do anything else except maybe finish as traffic in and out is shut down from 6am-9:30am.

Ironman is thinking through safety plans more and more, especially around the swim. I noticed a “designated acclamation zone” front and center at the swim. It allowed all athletes to get into the water and take whatever time they needed to get acclimated to the water temperature. It was the first time I personally have seen it where it had no limit of closure. I thought it was awesome. I don’t know if this was truly something new or if I have missed this at other races, but I plan on following up in a different article.

My day continued onto the bike course as it weaved its way up northwest to the Indian Wells Tennis Garden. The bike was nothing special – bumpy roads through the California Desert. The local Sheriff and law enforcement really seemed to have a good handle at all the intersections though. Another very positive thing to see for athlete safety. The tight roads with narrow out and backs, my moto driver and I chose to skip things we felt could be a little too tight. It means we missed some of the pros, but such is life and it’s always for the best. I will say that I was frustrated with how one of the packs was riding. I mean, I get it, it’s tough and some of the rules need to change for sure. But you can’t just wheel suck and feel good about yourself later, or att least you shouldn’t (in my opinion). The only drafting penalty on the day in the men’s field was given to Matt McElroy and he deserved it by not making the pass – not just once, but a couple of times. Now here is the thing with Matt. He didn’t understand the rule and he 100% owned up to it. Matt is a stand-up guy and instead of pointing the finger. he took and talked with the referee’s for a while after and went away with a better understanding.

Coming into T2 we discovered that our moto was not allowed on the run course at all. So that really sucked. I have no idea why, but that put me into a “well crap…” situation. I say that because I ended up missing a lot of the women. Which totally sucked. I really pride myself in doing my best for equal coverage as hard as it is. I try. So, sorry ladies. I got caught with a problem and the solution was to stay in a spot and the timing just sucked…

This was my first time covering this race. And while we ran into some road blocks I'm glad we checked it out. If you are an athlete that is looking at doing this race, be prepared for cold water and longer than normal processes for check-in and day off race stuff. And for sure make it a point to stay after and hit up some golf.

Here are some photos of the race day that I enjoyed.

One final check before the cannon is fired. Like many of you I have plenty of issues with IRONMAN. But they have some of the best people handling race operations.

Marc Dubrick clearly takes head temperature seriously.

Ben Kanute taking a minute to smile for the camera.

Jody Stimpson getting very focused for the task at hand.

Ben, Mark and others making sure the start line was fair before the gun went off.

Hoka’s new Carbon X2 is one of my favorite shoes. But they need to redesign the heel. It was painful watching Ben Kanute try to get his shoes on quickly. (It sounded painful for him too.)

First out of the water in the men's field was Greg Harper with a 22:45 split.

And the age groups starting waves and underway.

Lesley Smith would end up having the 2nd fastest women’s pro bike split of the day – 2:20:34. She would end up finishing 4th on the day

Even though she didn’t have the day she wanted, it is always great seeing Jody on course.

So… I’m going to go ahead and leave this photo here. I still can’t believe that we can’t get a handle on this.

Casper Stornes with a solid bike that led most of the day.